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Sunday, August 25, 2013

FASERIP, aka Marvel Superheros and its damn awesome

Some like Champions with its crunch, some like Villains and Vigilantes, for me its neither. If I'm going for a Super hero system it has to be Marvel Superheroes. In my mind nothing else even comes close. The Marvel system does a great job recreating the comic books. Henceforth I'll be referring to it as MSH.

One huge advantage that the system current enjoys is there is a wealth of information for the game out there, no more so then: To put it bluntly there is no shortage of material for the judge to pick from. TSR then Wizard of the Coast apparently let the copyright expire and it went to Public Domain, Woot!

The Marvel system is a breeze with many fans knowing it as Marvel FASERIP. FASERIP stands for attributes in the game Fighting, Agility, Strength, Endurance, Reason, Institution, and Psyche. The first four are combined to create the characters Health score and the the later three are likewise combined to determine the characters Karma. Health is analogous to Hit Points while Karma is akin to Luck Points in other systems. Characteristics range from Feeble (2) to Beyond (unlimited) with most being somewhere between Typical (6) and Monstrous (75). Once you start getting above Unearthly (100) it starts to get a bit dodgy but I think a skilled Judge can pull it off. In Marvel there is always someone tougher then yourself or you group.

Talents are likewise well thought out and easy to use. Equipment is likewise straight forward and does not bog the game down. In way the entire rule-set is an early version of the Savage Rules when one things about it, keep it "Fast, Furious and Fun"? MSH does just that.

While there are powers listed in the rule book the best route to go is to use the Ultimate Powers Handbook (don't forget the errata from Dragons #134 and #151 respectively). Powers is always something of a weak spot in MSH. The main problem is you pick a grouping, say Defensive and then roll to see what you get. I think it works because everyone would be picking the same powers (can you say every character with Danger Sense, Cosmic Awareness, True Flight, Regeneration and Invulnerability? That said in my groups we just picked powers and after rolling for the number of them and it always seemed to work out.

The box set is a great entry into the game ans has everything that fledgling players and the Judge needs to get rolling. I recommend actually getting the base game, and go for advanced rather then the basic rules (the picture above is from the Advanced game box set).

Most of my experience with the game was in High School where we played it irregularly which is a shame as it is a fine system. Most of my characters were mutants as I liked characters who actually had powers. This is probably because I also disliked DC comics whose heroes were typically non-powered as typified by Batman. One of my gaming crew from back in the day was a big fan of the rule set, but paradoxically a big fan of DC and created his own version of Batman he tried to foist on me. I had none of that and preferred to play my own characters.
"Don't leave super hero headquarters without me."

Task resolution is handled via well thought out system of green, yellow and red intensities. The task becomes harder as it goes from green to red and requires a higher % dice roll. Speaking of which being based on a d100 makes it easy to use and visualize for players where their scores lie. It also works perfectly with the rankings system of Feeble (2) up to Unearthly (100) in the attributes, one would guess they did this on purpose...

As noted above the Judge is spoiled for choice. He has a vast amount of material to draw on in the Marvel Universe before even writing his own stuff. The Basic line and the Advanced line covers all of the main material from the main run of the Bronze Age of comics in the 80's to the early 90s. 

If I were to play today I think a hi tech wonder character ala Ironman would hold the most interest for me. There is just something about being able to tinker with ones battle suit adding more gizmos then R2-D2 that is appealing.

No matter what you inkling you really cant go wrong with MSH as its a great system.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hurled into Eternity domain reserved...

As you  an see its not much at the moment, but I have taken the steps to make sure that I have my preferred URL reserved. In the future the plan is to house my online endeavors there with links to my Facebook Page as well as back to this blog.

As it stands right now Hurled into Eternity is being edited as we speak. My next goal is to get it to play testing then onto production for print. Right now a fiend of mine and I are contenplating some custom playing cards to go with the game. That is at the planning stages.

While Im waiting for the editing to be complete I'm hard at work on the first two supplements for the game as well as Restless Rust Monster Publications second game: a World War I aerial combat game. I have a name for it but will wait until its fit for release. Right now its a lot of ideas, but not in a cohesive form.

Stay tuned for more.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Man Cave/Game Area

Everyone has one, I'm lucky enough that I have the whole basement to myself! We built a house in 2011 so the basement is unfinished. I've been thinking of ideas for a gaming area, but haven't come up with a theme I want just yet. But, there is part of me that likes the ad hoc manner in which I'm doing it, putting up posters, picking up bookcases on the side of the road* etc. It harkens back to the days when we played in my friends basement Saturday nights in High School, at least until we could drive ;)

So without further delay, here is the state of Willmark's man cave, circa 2013:

* As much as I like technology I still like books and I am getting scads of them on the cheap. Same goes for bookshelves. Seems everyday people are throwing out perfectly good ones, wooden not fiberboard no less.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Weird War II- Weird Wars for Savage Worlds

Weird type events for World War II? Yes please. Unlike Deadlands I think this pulls it off. That is not an indictment of Deadlands either. I like the concept surrounding Deadlands and some have even said "finally one can role-play in the Old West" I disagree, but that's another topic entirely. The topic at hand is the Weird War II source book from Pinnacle Games for their Savage Worlds rules.

Weird War II is a sourcebook for using the Savage World rules system from Pinnacle games for a twist on Word War II. Like Deadlands there is dark elements afoot and Europe is in deeper trouble then just Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. Weird War as a genre has been around for quite some time but I think that this book really captures in well for the first time in an RPG.

I'm not delving into the Savage World rules here per say as if you are reading this you probably already know how the system works. Instead I'm going to focus on the book itself as source material.

Released in 2009, overall Pinnacle did a good job of capturing the feel of the genre and the character creation really shines from the perspective of each of the main nationality identities. Each of the main nationalities has an advantage that is typical to soldiers from the corresponding countries. While one could play the Axis side I think the best way to handle a team is the Allies, not only are the rules set up this way but the mixed nature of the Allies means there is a great deal of latitude to use military and civilians packages. I think female players can draw great inspiration from the illustration on page 12It's a great way to get the ladies into action. Who wants to play a WAC when you could be a French Mademoiselle with a penchant for explosives blowing stuff up! In any event the game concept of the Office of Special Investigations really does away with the worry of women in combat anyways. basically if one can handle the horrors of Weird War you're in regardless of gender. In a way it also harkens to the Twilight 2000 rule set where units can be very ad-hoc in nature.

As a quick aside the equipment levels feels just about right for the game.

Additionally the rules add the right amount of new skills and edges to round out the game. I also really like the mission generator as it will really get the game moving. If the Warmaster is having a hard time coming up with something all he has to do is flip through there, role some dice and he has the party moving forward with something in play. Another factor that can help is the Warmaster can always "pull rank" on the players by having a superior officer issue them orders. In way this is awesome for the GM as he is usually at the whim of the players wandering around complaining about "railroads" after said GM has prepared options A, B and C. Invariably the players ignore everything and try for option Z only to then complain "there is nothing to do."

The material here is quite scalable to, going from personal arms all the way up to fighters and bombers and ships from the various navies! Rules for fortifications, battlefield rules, artillery, dsease, parachuting, you name it. In short you can easily play out almost every aspect (and then some) with the rules and the Savage Rules Explorer edition.

Large sections of the book also hone in on the Weird War aspects of the game (this really gets rolling in Chapter Five). The rules also add monsters as well as spell casting (particularly Nazi blood magic) and Soviet Psychic rules. While the natural tendency might be to focus on the ETO (European Theater of Operations) the campaign in the Pacific could be equally as exciting. With the vastness of the Pacific Ocean there could be a multitude of chances to encounter many weird aspects to the game all in sweltering heat.

The last chapter deals with the Axis powers and the Warmaster will be using it often as well as the monsters that are introduced into the game. Some notables are the Axis Stitch (soldiers sewn together from multiple bodies), zombies (the mustard gas ones are particularly nasty) and wehr wolves.

In terms of graphic design and art presentation I give it high marks. Even with some of the art being recycled from the previous incarnation of the rules its still good and uniformly excellent through capturing the feel quite well. Both the front and back covers deserve praise as does my personal favorite of the book, the picture of the Axis Stitch on page 163.

One negative I have for it being a hardbound book the gluing is flimsy. My copy is already separating from the spine and I haven't opened it a ton. Perhaps I'm a bit it old school there and feel the bindings should be better.

If I were to run this with my group I'd probably rely a lot on the imagery from Return to Castle Wolfenstein as well. I think there is natural overlap (and for all I know perhaps the chaps at Pinnacle were inspired by the game). I think if handled right by the referee that weird happenings in WWII could be a fun an exciting jaunt away from the traditional sword and sorcery realm of AD&D.

Another point is that the previous edition was d20 based. But if you are anything like me you can make almost anything work so you'll have resources to pull from. As I get older I still am not a huge fan of the d20 style of gaming, but it does offer up a lot of material to adapt to ones game.  The thing to keep in mind however is there is not much in the way of modules for Weird War so you'll be doing a fair bit of writing. I don't see this as a major problem when one considers Word War II was very well documented.

Another tactic to take soul be to use the Savage world rules along with the Weird War supplement and meld it into an alternative Earth. Or take it and combine it with the ideas presented in the RPG magazine the Familiar. In particular was the article in Issue #9 from 1996. The article entitles "Marxists and Magic" details the world of Zoor and the impact of Nazi science opening portals to the world of Zoor which is akin to more traditional RPG fare. The US and the allies follow and the Cold War comes to another dimension and or world. In any event the rules for Weird War II can be used in a multitude of ways.

In closing I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Talisman, as I know it

One great game that one of my gaming buddies Simrion has is Talisman 3rd edition. It's a very fun game with many twists and turns to it. I've tried to purchase it for myself many times in the past, but now days even the primary game (sans regions) is costly. And that is trying to procure it in a second-hand manner like eBay, to say nothing of the realm expansions (usual auctions end up around $150). Along with The Lost and the Damned its one of those items that keeps eluding me on eBay.

Talisman is one of our go to games when someone doesn't show up on games night. When one looks at it, Talisman is one of GWs better games. Rules are not overly complex, game length is just about right and its engaging with several strategies of play. It's also a classic with some readers remembering the older versions of the game. It gives good value for its cost (non-inflationary that is). The goal of the game is to amass enough power, garner a talisman and ascend the tower to slay the Dragon King. In theory a player can do this a number of ways, but one must remember that at the same time other players are attempting the same thing.

To start, each player randomly draws cards that list characters and the corresponding mini they will use on the game board, and many GW favorites are there: chaos warrior, goblin fanatic, chaos dwarf, and witch elf by way of example. Each character card has the figures special abilities on it. Some are better then others but all start within the same basic range. (There is quite an active community online still and fans regularly make their own characters for the game.)

The outer realms are boards (which are also known as regions) tie into the main game board adding the forest, maintains, city and dungeon respectively. This are stand alone expansions which further add to the cost of the game (GW never does anything cheaply). When in these outer realms teh playr rolls a d3 rather then d6 which causes you to move slower through the area.

Game play is fairly quick with lots of GW rules sprinkled in "if a conflict in the rules arise roll a d6, 1-3 you are right, 4-6 the other interpretation is" (paraphrasing here). Roll a d6 move to a space and draw the requisite cards indicated by the space. Initially in the hand many encounters will be deadly depending on ones character. Fights are either strength or craft. Warrior types do better at strength fights initially while spell casters usually go better in craft fights. One of the other players at the table rolls the dice for the opponents of the current player's turn (if any) so all of the players stay fairly involved even when its not their turn. I wont delve to much further into the rules but they can be found here.

I'm of the mind set that playing warriors are better if you want to win. Even the good characters like the Ranger, Templar and neutral ones like the barbarian are well worth it. Certain specialty ones like the Assassin are a toss up at times. Spell casters seem to be weaker as you are paying for the ability to cast with much lower strength scores to start and limited capacity for special rules involving combat.

Magic is a random mechanic and probably handled as well as can be. A character has to be able to cast spells (some can't) and have enough craft to do so. Spells are draw from a continuously recycling deck (all decks pretty much are in Talisman, but magic tends to go the quickest). Some spells are far better then others and some magic items boost a character's spell casting. On top of all of this, some characters have special abilities when it comes to spells that make them better still.

With all this said, there are certain strategies one might undertake and certain items and cards that are better then others. For one when your character is power enough challenge for the title of High Wizard and/or Sheriff boosting craft and strength. It gives enough of a critical boost to help you amass enough power to take out the Dragon King.

Another strategy is to attack other players which you are allowed to do if you land on the same space.  Personally I only do this on occasion as its usually not worth it. Typically the only time you really attack another character is if they have a talisman and you need one.

Other strategies include if you are evil looking for the Doom Sword which restored lost life on hits), looking for the Sword of Power in the Forest and the Hammer in the Mountains. Usually when I play I head for the Mountains or Forest when strong enough depending on which character I'm playing. In all the years Ive played Ive tended to shy away from the dungeon and should probably try that out as a strategy the next time through. The Mountains probably the best bet as its seems to have the greatest rate of return for the time spent there.

In any event I've enjoyed many a rousing game of Talisman with my gaming friends and over time I usually win (much to Simrion's wife's dismay). In fact the last two times I've played I've won!

If you can get the third edition its well worth it. For a product I give it 5 out of 5 stars, its that good.